By Rafael Emiliano Molina Romero, translated by the FOR Peace Presence team
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The community of Boquerón, in the mining zone of the department of Cesar, is facing forced relocation due to the high level of air contamination because of coal mining. Throughout the process, Tierra Digna, who FORPP accompanies, provides legal council and community strengthening for those in Boquerón. Below is a lyric reflection about the cultural effects of mining on the community of Boquerón.
Locals of Boquerón, including Flower Arias Rivera y Zeneida Martínez Molina, remember that it was approximately 40 years ago when the mining company Glencore, along with Mr. Carlos Rodríguez, arrived to the area with the intention of exploratory mining. Over time, the same territory was invaded by new organizations expert in mining exploitation, especially in natural coal, and among these Drummond, Ltd.
In this time, the inhabitants of the town of Boquerón preserved the rudimentary customs of a more natural life. Traditions ranged from hunting and fishing to the physical labor they did for some farm-owners with cattle or who grew cotton, rice, sorghum, and other things too. The value of the wage they received in compensation, fair or not, was enough to sustain their families.
These companies, protected by legal permission given to them by the national government, began what is known today as open-pit and subterraneous mining of the valuable mineral. Under the assumption that there wasn’t qualified manual labor in the area, they brought their own servants. They still do this, even though they have left little to no benefit to the town. On the contrary, they have contributed to the deterioration of a social fabric that, until that point, was solid.
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